Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Dracula Adaptations | Count Dracula (1977)
Who's in it?: Louis Jourdan (Anne of the Indies, Octopussy), Frank Finlay (the George C Scott A Christmas Carol), and Judi Bowker (the 1981 Clash of the Titans)
What's it about?: The BBC makes a faithful mini-series.
How is it?: Seriously, it's the most faithful adaptation of Stoker's novel. Cinemassacre agrees. (Thanks, Erik, for sharing that with me.) It only makes two major changes and they're both fairly benign. Mina and Lucy are sisters rather than just good friends, and Arthur Holmwood has been combined with Quincey Morris to become Quincey Holmwood, an American diplomat from Texas. That last one's an especially weird change, but all it does is let Morris out of the story (he's a cool character in Stoker, but superfluous) while still paying homage to him. Otherwise, the adaptation is so faithful that it even shoots on location in Whitby for the parts of the story that take place there.
Jourdan is an impressively suave and smart Dracula. He feels dangerous not just because he's a superpowered monster, but also because he really seems to know what he's doing. He has a plan, as of course, Stoker's version does.
Finlay may be my favorite Van Helsing yet. It's hard to beat Peter Cushing's awesome, dangerous vampire hunter, but that's not really Stoker's character. Finlay plays the literary version with competence, but also humor and a fantastic bedside manner.
Bowker's Mina is pretty great, too. She's the one version I've seen that portrays both the character's gentle naivety and her intense intelligence. She never crosses into buttkicking hero territory, but she's brave and figures out what's going on ahead of most of the dudes around her.
My one complaint about this version has to do with the look of it due to its being shot on video tape and the limits of its special effects. I appreciate that it uses video effects to try to convey some things that were missing from earlier versions, but some of them look silly to today's eyes.
Rating: Four out of five Minas